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Iran: Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Volume 611: debated on Tuesday 24 May 2016

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s most recent report on Iran’s nuclear activities concluded that Iran is complying with its obligations under the JCPOA. We have been working to help British businesses take advantage of new commercial opportunities, and to ensure that Iran benefits from sanctions relief, including seeking to address barriers within the international banking system to both objectives.

Since the signing of the nuclear deal, a religious minority still suffers from systematic persecution. Baha’is and Christians are routinely harassed, arrested and detained, and have received sentences totalling 193 years for simply manifesting their faith. What will the Government do to ensure that the new dawn in relations shines a light on Iran’s human rights abuse of religious freedom?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Iran’s human rights record remains shocking, as does its record of interfering in the affairs of its neighbours in the Gulf. The JCPOA, to which he referred, is a narrowly targeted agreement designed to shut down Iran’s capability to produce a nuclear weapon, and it has been effective in delivering that outcome. We will continue to make representations—I spoke with the Iranian Foreign Minister in Vienna only last week on some specific human rights cases that affect dual nationality British citizens, and we will continue to make such representations.

The Foreign Secretary referred to Iran’s interference in the affairs of neighbouring countries, and he mentioned the Gulf. Will he say something about our Government’s attitude to Iran’s interference in other countries in the region, particularly its role in Iraq and in helping Assad in Syria?

The hon. Gentleman is right. Iran is a significant player in the politics of Iraq, although generally not in a way that is helpful, and it is a significant backer of the Assad regime in Syria, with Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces taking part in action in defence of the regime. Iran is also a member of the International Syria Support Group, and as such it is incumbent on it, as well as on Russia, to apply pressure on Assad to deliver on the commitments made in the Vienna forum..